Greatest Drives Latest

  • Around the Coast in 8 Days
    Amazing coast drive using only A & B roads and keeping the sea in view wherever possible all in the target of 8 days. We did this nutty trip to raise funds for the Motor Neurone Association of Great Britain and raised the sum of £4000+...
    by SeanM at April 13th, 2013 at 3:35pm
  • Northumberland National Park
    We drove this route on the way back from Edinburgh en route to York. Northumberland is a relatively hilly national park but this is why the A68 is so much fun. A short while after Jedburgh to the north you cross the summit of a mountain range where the Sc...
    by electrobooks at April 6th, 2013 at 10:12pm
  • Dartmoor National Park
    The B3357/B3212 between Tavistock and Moretonhampstead is a cracking little blast over Dartmoor encompassing some great views, fast sweeping bends over some serious elevation change and an abundance of sheep all in one handy package. This makes for a fas...
    by SilverArrows at January 4th, 2013 at 12:09pm

Car News Latest

  • First drive: Volkswagen ID Buzz concept review Saturday 19th August 2017
    Volkswagen ID Buzz
    We had a short test drive in ID Buzz concept in California
    The electric ID Buzz, which will go into production in 2022, is inspired by the classic Microbus. We have a run in the concept version in California

    Entry to the ID Buzz, the concept Volkswagen has confirmed will go into production as the modern-day Microbus, combines the magic of contemporary electronics and traditional heave.

    Waving a hand within the side swage line on the driver’s door triggers an electronic opening mechanism, which involves the conventional front-hinged driver’s door swinging open to reveal the concept’s wonderfully simplistic yet surprisingly roomy interior.

    Official: Volkswagen to put ID Buzz electric concept into production

    The floor is mounted at a high 525mm due to the need to house an extensive crash structure within the front end and the battery within the long 3300mm wheelbase, but there’s a small step integrated within the sill area to ease entry as you climb aboard. You step up and then into cabin. 

    Inside the Volkswagen ID Buzz concept

    The initial impression once you’re inside is just how high you are positioned above the road: the driver’s seat places your torso well above the belt line. In combination with an upright windscreen it offers a commanding view enhanced by generous quarter windows. The links with earlier Microbus models are undeniable and provide the ID Buzz with a wonderfully authentic feel.

    With a design that aims to reduce clutter, the high mounted full width dashboard is devoid of any controls. The main functions, including the gear selection and indicators, are all housed within the rectangular steering wheel.

    The I.D. Buzz is fitted with two electric motors, one mounted at the front within the short nose section, the other within the rear-axle assembly. This gives it four-wheel drive capability. Each motor delivers 201bhp, although the combined system output is limited to 369bhp. It’s a layout Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess says will be mirrored on more upmarket versions of the new Microbus.

    The ID Buzz can also be configured as a rear-wheel-drive model featuring a 268-hp rear-mounted electric motor in a drivetrain layout similar to that of the I.D. hatchback.

    Fitted with a large 111 kWh lithium-ion battery mounted low in the floor, Volkswagen claims the ID Buzz has a zero-emissions range of up to 372 miles on the European test cycle.

    Driving the Volkswagen ID Buzz concept

    A swipe of your finger on a starter button within the touch sensitive steering wheel is all that’s needed to prime the electronics and ready the I.D. Buzz to move off.

    The one-off concept has been in use all morning by the time I get my turn in the driver’s seat, and there are concerns about the level of energy remaining within the lithium-ion battery.

    Although designed with an augmented reality head-up display unit within the windscreen, there are no obvious instruments to reveal the battery charge. As a result, my drive is curtailed to a couple of runs of about a mile along 17 Mile Drive, a picturesque tourist road on the Monterey Peninsula in California.

    While only a brief encounter in a concept with the single motor and rear-wheel drive layout likely to power entry level versions, it nevertheless provides a good indication of what we can expect when the production version arrives in 2022.

    The I.D. Buzz gets underway with surprising vigour as I call up D (for drive) with a swipe of my finger across the steering wheel. This early concept might not possess the full quota of reserves promised by the twin-engine spec, but the e-Golf-based driveline and rear-wheel drive set-up is sufficiently sorted to zip away from standstill with instant response. It hits cruising speeds with engagingly flexible properties when the traffic allows.

    Volkswagen says the boxy concept weighs close to 2000kg, though it gives the impression of being a lot lighter. Like most electric vehicles, the strong torque ensures it feels eager. 

    With a coasting function aiming to maximise efficiency, it freewheels with very low frictional losses when you come off the throttle, rolling along with the electric motor disengaged from the drive process until you pick up the power again or nudge the brake pedal to wipe off speed. Driveline refinement is quite impressive; there’s no trace of whine from the electric motor mounted in the back.

    Volkswagen intends equipping its new Microbus with contemporary autonomous driving technology. With a steering wheel that retracts back into the dashboard and a driver’s seat that swivels through a full 180-degrees to face the rear, it has been properly conceived to support hands-off driving. The concept, though, runs a more conventional set-up that relies on purely on the driver.

    The steering is light but slow to respond and not very direct at all – but with four years of planned development before it is due to reach showrooms, Volkswagen will surely ensure it matches the impressive levels of steering response and directness shown by recent new models.

     The electro-mechanical system, whose rack is mounted forward of the front axle line, can manoeuvre the I.D. Buzz around a Pebble Beach car park without much trouble, although it requires a good deal of twirling the steering wheel to engage much lock. Once up to speed it improves with greater weighting and more feel. Among the functions Volkswagen is touting is a rear-wheel steer system offering a turning circle of less than 11 metres.  

    The ride is firm and quite noisy. Most design-based concepts ride like shopping trolleys, and with the I.D. Buzz riding on 22-inch aerodynamically optimised wheels shod with prototype 235/45 tyres, there’s little in the way of proper wheel travel or comfort inducing compliance.  

    But these particular facets of the ID Buzz’s driving characteristics are not really representative of what we can expect of the finished product. When it launched in 2022 it will use the MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension set to be used by all MEB-based Volkswagen models. They’re taken from the company’s existing MQB-based models, and for the most part they all handle and ride with pleasingly direct and refined driving traits.

    Further likely developments include adaptive damping and self-levelling rear air springs to control ride height when loaded with passengers and/or luggage. This, and the fact that the MPV’s inherent layout provides it with a very low centre of gravity, is reason enough to suggest its dynamic qualities should meet the heady expectations already being heaped upon it. 

    Initial impressions of the ID Buzz

    This basic concept provides a sound basis for the return of one of the motoring world’s most iconic machines.

    Sliding rear doors and a fully flat floor shows the ease of entry and generous accommodation we can expect from the future Microbus. Positioning the driver so far forward creates sufficient room to accommodate up to eight, and the interior is designed to support a multitude of different layouts. There are two separate luggage compartments, at the front and rear.

    One of the factors that have allowed Volkswagen to realise its long-held plans of resurrecting the Microbus is the packaging advantages provided by the MEB platform structure. With the electric motors placed down low, the frontal area has been dedicated almost entirely to crash deformation. The only components housed up front are power electronics for the driveline and air conditioning compressor. Everything else resides underneath the flat floor.

    The engineering brief, as it stands today, calls for it to be sold exclusively with electric drive and offer a choice of standard and long wheelbases.

    Four years is a long time to wait, but if the promise shown by the ID Buzz concept during our brief drive is reflected to any degree on the production version it will be well worth it.

    Read more

    First drive: Volkswagen ID concept

    Opinion: Another Microbus concept? Why this one could work (from Jan 2017)

    Volkswagen Sedric previews self-driving pod-like vehicle

    Inside Volkswagen's Wolfsburg production plant

    The future of the car: an Autocar guide (includes autonomous driving explainer)

    Volkswagen commits to electric future but says diesel remains 'indispensable'

  • Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 name confirmed for first hot hybrid model Saturday 19th August 2017
    Mercedes-AMG CLS53 to be first of several performance hybrids
    The next-generation CLS has only been spotted testing in non-AMG guise
    New hybrids will sit beneath 63 models; CLS to share its six-cylinder-based powertrain with other models

    Mercedes-AMG will introduce a new petrol-electric hybrid line-up to sit below its 63 range, starting with a CLS 53 version later this year.

    The model is due to be revealed as part of the next-generation CLS range at the Los Angeles motor show in November, before reaching roads in the middle of 2018. It will use AMG’s 3.0-litre straight-six engine, as used by 43 models, in conjunction with a 50kW electric motor.

    Autocar revealed AMG's intentions to introduce a hybrid-six-cylinder drivetrain to its line-up earlier this year at the E-Class Coupé launch, but information at that time suggested it would be a range badged as 50. A source has now confirmed to Autocar that 53 has been chosen to align the hybrid models with AMG's existing naming conventions.

    The hybrid AMG CLS's combined system output is expected to exceed 450bhp, likely ranking it more than 100bhp behind the current V8-engined CLS 63 S. However, the hybrid six-pot model’s electric torque-filling ability should ensure performance is much closer – so much so that it will likely take the 63’s place and become the CLS’s top variant.

    This would clear space for the AMG GT four-door that’s due in 2018 as an entirely different model, inspired by the GT Concept of the 2017 Geneva motor show. The GT four-door will use a twin-turbocharged V8 engine, borrowed from either the AMG GT or E63, with a hybrid range-topper producing around 800bhp.

    The hybrid CLS is expected to come with regenerative braking technology to help replenish its lithium ion batteries when on the move. This technology is already in use elsewhere in Mercedes’ range, and would come as part of 48v electric architecture.

    Following hybrid six-pot models will share the CLS 53's’s drivetrain. An AMG E 53 would be the most likely next candidate for the system, due to the CLS’s strong technical links with the E-Class. Sources suggest that the electric and six-cylinder system will be the only drivetrain available on AMG coupé and convertible E-Classes, while larger saloon and estate models will remain as E63s with V8 engines.

  • Volkswagen to put Microbus-inspired ID Buzz electric car into production Saturday 19th August 2017
    Volkswagen ID Buzz
    The Microbus-inspired Volkswagen ID Buzz will go into production in 2022
    Retro-styled electric MPV, due to go on sale in 2022, will be capable of autonomous driving

    Volkswagen will put the ID Buzz concept – an all-electric Microbus-inspired MPV capable of autonomous driving – into production, with the car due to go on sale in 2022.

    The machine was first displayed at the Detroit motor show in January, and Volkswagen has now decided to launch a production version in Europe, the USA and China following strong public reaction. The decision was confirmed at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance last weekend.

    First drive: behind the wheel of the ID Buzz concept

    Speaking at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California, Volkswagen CEO Dr Herbert Diess said: “After the presentations at the global motor shows, we received a large number of letters and emails from customers who said, 'please build this car'.

    ”The Microbus has long been part of the California lifestyle. Now we're bringing it back by reinventing it as an electric vehicle."

    While the styling of the ID Buzz evokes the legendary Type 2 van, first launched in 1949, the machine is built around the latest technology on Volkswagen’s new all-electric architecture. It will also feature Level 3 autonomous driving capabilities, meaning it will be able to drive itself with human supervision.

    Volkswagen commits to electric future but says diesel remains 'indispensable'

    The all-wheel-drive concept version is powered by 150kW two electric motors, with one in the nose section and the other by the rear axle, giving a total output of 369bhp. Torque is distributed between the two motors through an ‘electric propshaft’, and it can hit 62mph from rest in less than five seconds. Top speed is limited to 99mph.

    The ID Buzz has a battery charge capacity of 111 kWh, giving a range of around 270 miles. The batteries are built into the floor to maximise interior space. Volkswagen says the ID Buzz’s architecture would also allow it to be fitted with a 268bhp rear-wheel-drive electric powertrain.

    The ID Buzz has a wheelbase of 3300mm and a turning circle of 10 metres. The machine’s variable interior – which is 4922mm long - can seat up to eight people.

    Volkswagen says the interior has been designed for maximum usability, with a rail-based flexible seating layout. The third row of seats can be converted into a bed, in a nod to its Microbus inspiration.

    As with the Type 2 that inspired it, a commercial version, the ID Buzz Cargo, will be produced by Volkswagen.

    Diess said: “The vehicle looks like a compact commercial van on the outside, even though it offers the generous interior space of a large SUV.”

    The ID Buzz concept features a touch-sensitive steering wheel, with an augmented reality head-up display and centre console tablet intended to replace much of the traditional driving instrumentation.

    First drive: Volkswagen ID Concept review

    The ID Buzz will be capable of autonomous driving and will come fitted with VW’s ID Pilot autonomous driving system. The concept version features a steering wheel that retracts and decouples from the steering system when the ID Buzz is switched into its fully autonomous mode.

    The future of the car: an Autocar guide (includes autonomous driving explainer)

    The concept doesn’t feature rear-view mirrors, instead using external cameras whose images are displayed on an ‘e-Mirror’ screen in the traditional location of the rear-view mirror. Again, it is unclear how much of this technology will make it to production versions of the ID Buzz.

    The ID Buzz will form part of Volkswagen’s ‘Together-Strategy 2025’ plan, which involves the firm investing £7.5 billion into developing more than 30 battery-powered models by 2025. The first new model from the firm will be the ID compact car.

    Autocar has driven the Volkswagen ID Buzz concept in California. Read our initial impressions here.

    Read more

    Opinion: Another Microbus concept? Why this one could work (from Jan 2017)

    First drive: Volkswagen ID concept

    Volkswagen Sedric previews self-driving pod-like vehicle

    Inside Volkswagen's Wolfsburg production plant

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